On a lovely sunny afternoon in the middle of August, parishioners from St Michael’s parish in Brecon, were joined in a Share the Journey walk by a number of refugees linked to Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees which was formed in 2015.
The group then joined the national City of Sanctuary movement: which is comprised of over 60 local groups which are committed to developing a “culture of welcome and inclusion” for people seeking sanctuary in the United Kingdom.
Father Jimmy Pulickakunnel, parish priest at St Michael’s led the group in prayer at the start of the walk. Local CAFOD volunteer, Jean Ruston was the main organiser of the event and had chosen an accessible, peaceful walk through the beautiful and historic town of Brecon and along the banks of the River Honddu which joins the River Usk in the centre of town.
What is the Share the Journey campaign? #sharejourney
The Share the Journey campaign has at its heart the vision of a united global family. The focus is on our joint journey as people on the move in departure, transit and host communities.
The walk provided an opportunity for a group of migrants and a parish community to come together and share stories and experiences with the aim of strengthening the bonds between them.
Pope Francis is involved! He has made numerous appeals to promote the culture of encounter in an effort to combat the culture of indifference in the world today. It means seeing through the eyes of others rather than turning a blind eye.
“Not just to see but to look. Not just to hear but to listen. Not just to meet and pass by, but to stop. And don’t just say ‘what a shame, poor people,’ but allow ourselves to be moved by pity.” Pope Francis.
The campaign is asking that we contribute to the building of stronger communities and more inclusive societies.
“Christ asks us to welcome our brother and sister migrants and refugees with arms wide open.” Pope Francis
We talked as we walked! We heard stories from Somalia, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Syria. The journeys that people had been forced to make. The difficulties and choices that had been faced. Their willingness to share their personal experiences was very moving and humbling.
As we made our way along this lovely walk, one person shared how safe she felt. There was no “boom, boom” – no gunfire. Another young person shared his thirst for learning, his quest to better himself.
Another very touching moment was when of the refugees, who was separated from his family, volunteered to read one of the stories from the Share the Journey walk. It was a privilege for us all to be in the moment together. To comprehend in a very small way, the fear, sadness, resilience, tenacity, courage, heartbreak and hope that many of our brothers and sisters live every day.
We are very grateful to the volunteers from HBTSR for providing transport to Brecon for the group and we applaud their work to create a network of places throughout the country that do their best to include people seeking asylum or refuges in the lives of their communities.
The campaign runs until September 2019 and we continue to encourage our parish communities to reach out in a gesture of welcome. Why not organise a parish card signing this Autumn? Or an Autumnal parish walk around your village, town, school playing fields or church grounds? If you are passionate about migration and interested in what’s happening in our world, then this is a campaign where you can made a difference at all levels. Why not take a look at our factsheet?
Here’s our organiser’s guide which tells you everything you need to know to organise your own walk. This is an opportunity to share something of yourself and offer it up in friendship in exchange for friendship and a journey of discovery.
Don’t forget to use your voice to speak up for migrants and refugees. Please sign our online petition to the Prime Minister.